We have had photography on our minds this summer at SAAM. First, we opened Welcome Home: A Portrait of East Baltimore, 1975-1980, a photography survey that captures a changing American neighborhood through the eyes of three women photographers. Most recently, we announced that SAAM has acquired a rare collection of early daguerreotypes from three African American photographers. So, for this Throwback Thursday, we invite you to soak up the last of the summer sun with a photography-inspired craft from our very own craft master.
Did you know that you can recreate your own version of a photography predecessor with just construction paper and sunlight? You can with a sun print! This simple paper-fading project is related in process to cyanotypes, like Elderberry Blossoms by Bertha E. Jaques. We’ll use construction paper; cyanotypes use an iron-based solution on paper or fabric that reacts to light and causes an untreated area of the paper to turn blue—like you see in a blueprint or in the artwork above. This early process led to the development of more stable photographic processes that gave us photographs as we know them today.
To make a sun print, you’ll need the following supplies:
- Heavy scrap paper (cardboard, magazine, paper board)
- Construction paper
- Plastic wrap
- Rocks or bricks
Plan your design and cut it out from the scrap paper.
Lay the cut outs on top of the construction paper; do not tape or glue.
Wrap the entire paper in plastic wrap.
Lay the paper in the sun; pick a place that will stay sunny for at least 6+ hours. If good weather is expected for multiple days, you can leave it for longer.
Set bricks or stones at the edges to hold everything in place. (This is not a great project for a windy day.)
Come back after 6-plus hours and remove the plastic wrap and cut outs. Admire your new print!
Share your sun prints with us @americanart We'll be publishing another at-home craft with the craft master soon. In the meantime, check out our video library of crafting projects from past Handi-hour events.
Learn more about SAAM's rich holdings in photography, including cyanotypes.